I remember the days when I was still in school, music and physical education was a form of escape from the monotonous academic curriculum. The reason was simple, because they don’t require much thinking, or so I thought. While this was what I felt, others might have the view of such specialist subjects being purposeless and a waste of time, a thief of time that could potentially be channelled to general studies. Why then do schools still include music and physical education as part of their curriculum?
There is definitely some form of recognition that music and physical education are important in the development of a child. Both train the part of the brain relating to hearing and movement, which are undoubtedly essential during a child’s growing years, allowing for the enhancement of motor and cognitive skills.
While sports build up one’s physical health, music builds creative health. As the countries continually develop, education becomes more widely available, increasing the world’s literacy rate. With more people being educated, the social problems we face evolve in complexity when compared to past generations. Global warming, cyber-bullying, and ageing population are just some of the social issues that could use a new outlook and perspective. Creative thinking is thus pivotal in navigating such complex social problems we face in the 21st century.
Researchers have found that humans generally have the cognitive capacity to come up with original ideas via the use of divergent thinking (Runco, 2011). A way proven to promote divergent thinking is by listening to happy music as it enhances one’s cognitive flexibility. This helps counter the natural flow of society, where we are pressured to conform our thinking to fit a certain mould.
The short film, ‘Alike’ directed by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez, follows the life of father and son, Copi and Paste, and captures beautifully the difference music brings to a world full of routine and mundanity. As we take note of the use of colours to differentiate the moods of the characters and state of the environments throughout the short, we can easily interpret the innocent joy Paste has as a child. Despite the work life of Copi being dull, Paste never fails to bring colour back to his dad at the end of the day when they reunite. However, my heart struck a chord (see what I did there) when Paste’s creativity was being suppressed in school. The only form of joy Paste was able to turn to, aside from his dad, is the coloured violinist in the park. I’ll let you find out how the story ends yourself. But the important message this short promotes is the nurturing of curiosity and creativity in children, rather than forcing them to conform society’s preconceived notion of how one should be. My greatest takeaway is also that music brings colour to a bleak world.
I believe it therefore is essential for us to expose ourselves and our young ones to music at the earliest in order to leverage the benefits it brings to our development, or simply, our mood. The countless transferable skills honed from the process of learning music is too great to be ignored, especially if you, as a parent, aim for your children to have an edge in their academics in the future.